The United States is such a powerful force in the world that global citizens are closely watching our upcoming election. I attempt to keep a finger on the pulse of those living outside our borders since our local politics has such an impact on the global community. Since the last presidential debate was focused on U.S. Foreign Policy, I panned foreign news sources and friends to get a sense of opinions.
In general, I think that the last debate resonated with far greater force internationally than it did domestically. Characteristically the Europeans are the most opinionated concerning our election. A Romney/Ryan win is causing them the most concern. Over and over again, our European cousins fear that Romney would result in a George W. Bush – 2.0 Presidency.
At the top of the list of concerns are the volatile Mid-East and a growing fear that the U.S. foreign policy under Romney would lead to armed conflict with Iran. The Europeans in particular are very concerned that an unrelenting hard line with Iran would explode into a regional war that would have serious consequences on economic stability. The Europeans are currently balanced on a knife edge of a serious double dip recession and military action in the Mid-East could push them into a much deeper recession than was the first one. The perception of the Europeans as well as those in the Mid-East is that President Obama is much more “cautious and level headed." The very idea of increasing military spending an additional $2 trillion is delivering a message that the U.S. is preparing for more and wider military entanglements and engagements.
In the Far East, the message coming from Romney/Ryan is much more confusing. On one hand Romney is acknowledging the importance of a China/U.S. partnership, but on the other hand he’s promoting a much tougher stand on China. This message may play good at home, but it’s bringing into question our true position in the Far East. There is worry and concern that U.S. actions will create a new arms race that will seriously interfere with the global economic recovery. In addition, serious doubt has been raised on what will become of the War in Afghanistan and on our ongoing relationship to Pakistan. Romney and Ryan are sending clouded messages that have the regional powers frightened and confused.
I have read from more than one source that the U.S.’s inward focus is diverting attention away from the ultimate global recovery. The policies likely to be implemented by a Romney Administration would be so focused parochially that for every gain made domestically that it would have a more significant impact internationally. People must come to understand, we are living in a global economy that is highly systemic. Whatever happens in one part has consequences elsewhere, some of which could be unintended. Economic solutions that will benefit us must also provide benefit elsewhere. Downturns elsewhere will create downturns here.
It should be noted that traditionally candidates have talked about energy independence. However, what does that really mean? Do we only source our energy domestically and continue with our Western Hemisphere partners? Does anyone really think that domestic energy, primarily oil, will significantly impact global oil prices? True energy independence is found in alternative and renewable energy resources. The domestic fossil fuel production is something that we must wean ourselves from in order to stabilize our energy consumption. Bringing too much domestic energy (oil) into the market could have a disastrous consequence globally with the collapse of oil economies all over the world. We need to carefully consider when and how we become energy independent and put into place a comprehensive plan to minimize global risk.
The next day after the final debate, I received a call from a dear friend in Europe. That is what prompted this blog. He was very upset with the debate and what it meant to those outside our national borders. He asked me if Romney really had a chance of winning the election and I responded to him, that he did. He generally likes Americans and had lived and worked here for some time. His response to my answer was that he felt that if Americans elect Romney that it would wind up causing an international disaster. In short, I couldn’t disagree with him.
When each of us step into that election booth on November 6, we must keep in mind that we are really electing the leader of the world and the vast majority of that world is depending on how we cast our ballot. So it comes down to, you’re not just voting for yourself but for millions of others who can’t vote.